Christmas Lane: An idea grows into sparkling tradition

CEDAR CITY –While the stores were alive with shoppers scouring the aisles for sales on Black Friday, one neighborhood in Cedar City was busy putting the last minute touches on their Christmas lights in preparation for the traditional Lighting of Christmas Lane.

For five years, the neighbors around Cedar City Golf Course have rung in the holidays the day after Thanksgiving with the turning on of their Christmas lights.

This is possibly one the most festive neighborhoods in Southern Utah with each of the homes fully adorned with lights, yard decorations and life-size storyboards that tell the story of “The Night Before Christmas” also known as “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

The entire community is invited to the Christmas lighting that is complemented with hot chocolate, cookies, a visit from Santa and the Canyon View High School Madrigals as carolers.

Kimberlee Almond, one of the organizers of the event, said each year about 500-700 people attend the event. This year however, the numbers were a little lower due to a storm that rolled in the night before bringing with it a bitter cold front that kept most people curled up indoors.

“I think the weather kept some people away,” Almond said. “It’s really cold out here and this is actually the first time we’ve had bad weather. We’ve been really lucky.”

The 5th annual Christmas Lane storybook display in the 1200 N. 400 East area, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
The 5th annual Christmas Lane storybook display in the 1200 N. 400 East area, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Still, for those who came out and braved the weather, the brisk air along with the light snowfall only seemed to enhance the night’s ambience by transforming the neighborhood into a magical winter wonderland that mirrored a Christmas storybook scene.

For many in Southern Utah, the Christmas Lane lighting event has become a tradition they look forward to every year. Sonya Elaquiere and her brother Kirk Haymore are two of those people.

“We love it. That’s why we keep coming back every year,” Haymore said.

Both Elaquiere and Haymore are from California and said the event reminds them of one they went to there but without the rat race that comes with thousands of people.

“We used to go to a place in California that was this on steroids and you couldn’t move, so when we found this, it was like magical for us (because) you can walk it, people are friendly and they aren’t honking and being rude,” Elaquiere said. “To us this is what we craved – the small town. We love it.”

Many Iron County residents have also come to make the neighborhood part of their sightseeing route on Christmas Eve.

The 5th annual Christmas Lane storybook display in the 1200 N. 400 East area, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
The 5th annual Christmas Lane storybook display in the 1200 N. 400 East area, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“Throughout the season I love to sit here in my front room and just read my book and look out my window and see car after car after car come through. It warms my heart. I love it,” Almond said. “Then on Christmas Eve it literally feels like ‘Build a Dream, if you build it they will come,’ because it’s like car to car to car to car – everybody’s just driving through Christmas Eve. So it’s just been super fun.”

Christmas Lane started with Almond who said she and her husband had wanted to do a neighborhood light display for years but it wasn’t until she was working on a writing lesson with her elementary students that she finally made her dream a reality.

“We were talking about seed ideas and a seed idea is an idea you’ve had in your head for a while and you want it to grow,” Almond said. “It was a writing lesson with my students and I told them about this and the kids really encouraged me to do it. So I wrote a letter to my neighbors and said, ‘what do you think,’ and they said, ‘let’s do it’ – so we did it.”

The neighbors start in September or October getting ready and putting everything together. But while it’s a lot of work every year, Almond said quitting is not an option.

“I don’t know how we can never not do this again,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll ever not be able to do this anymore, it’s become such a tradition for so many families.”

The 5th annual Christmas Lane storybook display in the 1200 N. 400 East area, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
The 5th annual Christmas Lane storybook display in the 1200 N. 400 East area, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Each year the neighborhood display grows and this year is no different, Almond said. The neighbors have added four additional storyboards at the end of the lane but currently each one is wrapped as a present the neighbors plan to open on Christmas Day.

“We’re not going to open them until Christmas Day,” Almond said. “They’re a surprise ending.”

To make Christmas Lane part of your must-see light tour, turn east off of Main Street at 1045 North and follow the road as it winds around, passes Fairway Drive and arrives at a roundabout – there you’ll see the lights to the north.

The route is a circle with four streets making the connection. Follow it clockwise, turning right on Canyon View Drive then left onto Rideway Drive, Hillview Drive and Parkside Drive. For a different view, drive up on Fairway Drive to the west and from there you’ll be able to look down on the neighborhood.

St. George News | Cedar City News reporter Carin Miller contributed to this report.

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Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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